Contemporary charm with an Arabian flourish at Dubai's Fairmont The Palm – Hotel Insider

Location is everything at this five-star resort

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Like the artwork adorning its walls, Dubai’s Fairmont The Palm perfectly comprises a contemporary style with an Arabian flourish.

The five-star hotel opened in 2012 and has 391 rooms, four pools and an 800-metre-long private beach.

The National checks in to find out what's in store for travellers more than a decade on.

The welcome

We see the hotel clearly from Palm Jumeirah Road, positioned conveniently on the main trunk. A steep signposted driveway leads us straight to the smiling valet and bellboy tag team.

As my husband and I enter the lobby, dragging behind us The Boy, nine, and Baby Girl, three, we are greeted by a strong, agreeable floral scent and our children are fussed over by an army of waiting staff. Though we arrive at the peak time of 4pm on a Friday, we are pleasantly surprised that check-in only takes 10 minutes and, before we know it, we’re six flights up in our room.

The neighbourhood

For those who enjoy Dubai’s nightlife, the hotel’s location on the Palm West Beach promenade offers a scenic walk to exciting bars, restaurants and beachfront parties. It is also ideal for those with children or dogs, as backlit water fountains create endless free fun for little ones – furry or otherwise.

Other popular neighbourhoods, such as Dubai Marina, the harbour or JBR, are a short car ride away and, though we don’t test it, Al Ittihad Park Monorail Station is nearby.

The room

Our room is the Corner Jacuzzi Suite – Panoramic Palm Sea View, which, as the name suggests, has a hot tub on the balcony with an uninterrupted view of the Arabian Gulf (tip: it takes a little while to fill up, so be patient and think ahead).

The suite has one bedroom and, having booked for two adults and two children, we find only one bed and wonder how selfish we must be as parents if most gladly share with their offspring, sacrificing a good night’s sleep. Thankfully, everything is sorted with a smile as staff deliver two extra full-sized single beds.

The bedroom has a large en suite featuring his and hers sinks, wardrobes, a bath and a separate shower. The lounge has a TV, Nespresso coffee maker, corner sofa and full dining set. Despite the extra beds, there is plenty of room.

The service

Staff are happy and helpful throughout. Security guards always share jokes with us as we pass and, despite our children’s energetic – verging on rowdy – behaviour, not once do we see smiles slip.

It is evident that staff are encouraged to do everything they can to comply with guests’ wishes in the age-old “the customer is always right” fashion.

We ask for the AC in our bedroom to be cooler at night and, although we’re told it’s the coldest it can go, a technician is sent to the room to tinker.

The scene

Pieces by Jordanian artist Ahmed Abu Al Adas, who was born in Palestine and raised in Kuwait, hang in the foyer and corridors. He beautifully weaves Arabic calligraphy throughout his work.

Impossible to miss is the huge artwork featuring an Arabian horse – the artist's favourite animal – dominating the wall behind the hotel’s welcoming receptionists. Similarly, an Arabian flavour is woven throughout the simple stylish architecture, in corridors, rooms and dining outlets.

The hotel has both family-friendly and adults-only pools. Three adjacent pools cater to little ones and families, with a splash pad and children's club alongside. Children can use the club for two hours each day of their stay, though it must be booked in advance.

There is also a gym and spa available for adults, as well as water sports on the beach for all the family.

A paid in-room babysitting service is also offered for those wanting to enjoy the best of both worlds by having a quiet dinner – or loud night out – together at a neighbouring beach club.

The food

Breakfast at Flow Kitchen is a lively affair, especially if, like us, you visit on a public holiday. There's a live egg station, pancakes, juices and good vegan options.

Lunch at Seagrill Bistro proves to be a breath of fresh air, with toned-down nautical decor, natural palette and beautiful views. The food itself is hit and miss, though, with the sea bass (Dh175) fairly average and the experimental foie gras crumble (Dh125) starter a fun idea I’m glad to have tried.

Keeping away from the fish, my animal-loving, non-meat-eating husband has a kale and quinoa salad (Dh70). Desserts include creme brulee (Dh50), tiramisu (Dh55) and ice cream (Dh25) – and even a surprise vegan vanilla option, much to my husband’s delight.

Another lunch option is Mashrabiya Lounge, and for dinner eat alongside white tigers at Ba – Boldly Asian, sing along to duets at Frevo, sample Michelin-recommended dishes at Little Miss India, head back to all-day-dining at Flow Kitchen or go al fresco at Blowfish.

We try Frevo, which is a fun family-friendly option serving Brazilian food with live music and a relaxed atmosphere. So relaxed in fact that Baby Girl assumes she has permission to create her own dance floor, convert the underside of the table into a makeshift den and don everyone’s spare napkins as hats.

Little Miss India, on the other hand, is a more sophisticated venue, with delicious food and beautiful aesthetics. Every centimetre of wall space is filled with colourful trinkets and paintings. The eclectic restaurant serves quality traditional Indian food, with helpful and patient staff catering to our – well, our children’s – every need.

Highs and lows

Great location for both a family-filled and extravagant adult getaway.

As child-friendly as the hotel is, The Boy and Baby Girl find the splash pad a little tired. Also, the children's menu is identical in all the hotel’s venues and, sadly, lacks imagination and nutrition.

The insider tip

Plan all children's club and evening restaurant bookings in advance as they can fill up during peak times on a weekend.

The verdict

The large Arabian-style hotel caters for adults and children alike, and its setting on Palm West Beach amid the hubbub of activity is reason enough to stay. Prices are in the mid to high range, but location is everything.

The bottom line

Room prices at Fairmont the Palm start at Dh1,000. Rooms with Fairmont Gold lounge access start from Dh1,850 per night and suites start from Dh4,300 per night. Check-in is at 3pm and checkout is at noon; fairmont.com/palm-dubai/

This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel and reflects standards during this time. Services may change in the future

Updated: December 21, 2023, 10:53 AM